The world today is very different from what it was just a few short months ago when most people commuted to work, sat next to their co-workers, and had lunch in the cafeteria in their office building.
For more than half of the employees in the United States have been working remotely since the pandemic broke out earlier this year. Although this idea of telecommuting was foreign to many managers and rejected by the corporate culture of many organizations, it has now become commonplace to keep the work going and the company afloat in many industries.
Of course, many jobs simply cannot be done remotely and during the current crisis, many employees were terminated or their jobs were furloughed. If you were one of those for whom it was possible to work remotely, you may now be wondering “How can I stay remote?”
To keep business on track and to keep revenue streaming in, many companies had no choice to but make the technology switch to a remote environment. Whether it was a new technology infrastructure or training their teams to use Zoom and Skype, many companies have made a significant investment in making it work for their employees and the business as a whole.
As certain states and industries begin to open up, the true question becomes, will all of those employees who have been successfully and productively getting the job done at home be now forced to go back into an office environment? Will organizations discard all that they put into their systems to meet the needs of their customers or will they keep them in place?
Of course, as the majority of the world is hunkered down in their homes, doing their best to keep themselves and their families safe, this was a great opportunity for employees and companies alike to test the waters. For years now, employees have dabbled with this idea of working from home, even occasionally, to better meet the demands of life and to ensure work-life balance. Many organizations have resisted the concept for anyone other than higher-income earners for years. According to a study by Amanda Pallais, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, between 2005 and 2015 the numbers of workers who regularly worked from home increased by 2 or 3 %.
However, COVID-19 has allowed employers to see that productivity does not have to be lost as once thought and that working remotely can be advantageous to both the organization and the employee. It has brought to light that not only can employees be productive but they are happier and more engaged because of it. And don’t forget about the cost savings too! In fact, Chief Financial Officers who were asked in a recent study by Brookings.edu suggested that they “plan to keep at least 20% of their workforce working remotely to cut costs”[i].
Job seekers have placed higher importance and value on working remotely over the last several years yet organizations were reluctant to give in. Whether they didn’t see the value or thought that employees could not remain focused or the corporate culture did not allow for it, top management fought the process until the pandemic forced their hand.
Now that employers have seen that employees can be productive and the cost savings involved in telecommuting, the door is open for many employees to have that conversation about continuing the remote work process. If you are looking to make a case to your manager as to why working remotely is beneficial for you and more importantly, the company, here are a few tips to guide your conversation:
- Dollars and cents. According to Global Workplace Analytics, if an employee works remotely even half of the time, the employer can save approximately $11,000 per year. Make sure that leadership is aware of the cost savings to the company.
- Keep it professional. Although it may be inviting to tell your manager how you were able to throw in a load of laundry or walk the dog in between conference calls, it is best to keep it professional. Be sure to show up to your virtual meetings on time, appropriately dressed, and that your workspace is neat and organized.
- Quality Work. Although your workday may look slightly different than it did before, you still have to produce the same amount and quality of work as if you were in the office. In other words, “working remotely” during COVID did not mean that you could sleep until noon, reply to an email or two, and take the rest of the day off. That is going to give the company the confidence that you could continue working remotely once the crisis lessens. Let them know how productive you have been during this time and hopefully, your actions speak louder than your words and you have shown how productive you can be.
In the new environment, this conversation will be easier to have than ever before. Don’t let this opportunity to work from home and enjoy the work-life balance that you desire to slip away.